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MICHELLE HUGHES | September 16, 2014 | HEALTH WORKFORCE | 1 |

Shades of grey in the rural doctor story

Thanks to Greg Mundy, CEO of Rural Health Workforce Australia * for this reflection on the changing nature of the rural health workforce.

Despite what you read in the media, a good thing is happening to the medical workforce in rural and remote Australia.

It’s actually growing.

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MICHELLE HUGHES | September 15, 2014 | FEDERAL BUDGET 2014-15 | 1 |

Scientists precious? Indeed they are.

Today in an Editorial the Sydney Morning Herald  published its intention to “campaign for the federal government to outline its vision for the country’s future, a plan that brings together science, innovation and education”. This may be in no small part due to the the federal government’s unclear commitment to science and innovation in Australia. Budget cuts to the CSIRO and other organisations seem to be in direct contradiction to the Prime Ministers statement that “science is at the heart of a country’s competitiveness”.  A future vision for science in Australia is not made any clearer by the lack of a Minister for Science and an industry Minister who suggests that scientists who see this as an issue are “precious petals”.

Ahead of Q and A’s all scientist panel tonight, Dr Andrew Weatherall shares his thoughts on the Minister’s comments.

Dr Weatherall writes:

At first I thought it might be some breakthrough. Possibly the phrase “precious petals” had been deployed by a minister with some of the responsibility for science as he described his excitement at some new bit of amazing research.

No. Of course not. He was taking another swipe at the very group he is alleged to be “passionate” about. It’s a passion we should trust passion because he is the “grandson and son of a scientist”. Maybe claiming scientific ancestors is the new equivalent to “some of my best friends are women”.

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The 7 wonders of health funding

I recently had the privilege of participating in the Consumers Health Forum’s ‘Health in a time of change’ national workshop in Melbourne. The Workshop brought together a large number of consumers and other health stakeholders to debate current issues in health policy and advocacy. Copies of many of the presentations are available here, including an overview [...]

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MELISSA SWEET | September 14, 2014 | HEALTH INEQUALITIES | |

Deadly Choices: better ways of doing health promotion

Mainstream health promotion has failed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, according to Karen McPhail-Bell, a PhD candidate at Queensland University of Technology. In the article below, she argues that those working in the field could learn from strengths-based programs like The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s Deadly Choices. It offers lessons for all health promotion practice, she [...]

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JENNIFER DOGGETT | September 12, 2014 | FEDERAL BUDGET 2014-15 | 1 |

Time to put some more health funding options on the table

One of the more puzzling aspects of the current debate over health funding is the lack of new or innovative policy options being proposed by the Government and others from the conservative side of politics.  Given the level of panic being invoked about our alleged health funding crisis (disputed by many economists) it would seem logical that policy makers should be searching for viable options to combat the so-called health spending tsunami.   

Yet apart from the GP co-payment, there are few, if any, realistic policy options being put on the table for discussion.  The co-payment proposal has clearly not been accepted by either consumers or health care providers (for good reasons, as discussed at length here and here).  But since the failure of the Government to convince stakeholders that increased primary care co-payments are the way forward, there has been no ‘Plan B’ on offer to reform health funding arrangements to meet the changing needs of the community. 

The only contribution to the debate from the right thus far has been a proposal for individual health savings accounts (based on the Singapore model) from David Gadiel and Jeremy Sammut at the Centre for Independent Studies.  This option reflects the Government’s aim of encouraging consumers to contribute more in direct funding to their health care but would be a radical change to our current system and unlikely to gain the support of the current Senate.  Health savings accounts have also been criticised by a number of experts for widening existing inequities in access to health care and increasing overall costs.

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JENNIFER DOGGETT | September 11, 2014 | EDUCATION | |

Defining and responding to everyday racism

Racism is a sensitive and challenging issue but one which needs to be addressed by all of us working within the health system if we are to ensure all people can have equal access to health care.  In this thoughtful analysis of casual and everyday racism, collaborators Daniel Reeders and Suzanne Nguyen discuss how experiences of everyday racism correlate with health over time in Aboriginal Australian and culturally diverse people in Victoria. They discuss strategies to address the health impact of discrimination and empower young people around their experiences of everyday racism. They write:

A recent piece by Dr Jacqueline Nelson and Dr Jessica Walton in The Conversation is headlined “Explainer: what is casual racism?”  We’ve been working together for about a year on an initiative led by Suzanne that is tentatively titled “Defining Everyday Racism Project” or DERP for short.  (See postscript for our bios.)

Our collaboration began on Twitter, where Suzanne was tweeting about her creative and online initiative The Two Chairs, which has toured around Australia inviting people to sit in the chairs and reflect on their understandings of race in Australia. While sitting on these chairs, one of the very first things we discussed was the difference between casual racism and everyday racism.

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JENNIFER DOGGETT | September 11, 2014 | FEDERAL BUDGET 2014-15 | 1 |

Are the AIHW’s welfare functions at risk?

Good policy relies on robust, comprehensive and accurate data and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is one of the most respected source of data for health and social policy makers in Australia. However, its status may be compromised due to the upcoming merger between AIHW and other agencies.  In a post originally published at the Power to Persuade blog, Richard Madden the former director of AIHW reflects on what’s at risk if AIHW were to lose its welfare functions.  He writes:

The 2014 Commonwealth Budget includes a proposal to merge the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) with a range of other health bodies into a Health Productivity and Performance Commission. This endangers AIHW’s independent data collection and reporting.

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MELISSA SWEET | September 10, 2014 | INDIGENOUS HEALTH | 1 |

The Koori Woman: Ending the silence on trauma and mental health

Kelly Briggs writes: I recently attended The Mental Health Services (TheMHS) Conference of Australia & New Zealand in Perth. I mainly kept my schedule to see any Indigenous topics and themes being spoken about, and at some point I too was going to present a story on my lived experience with mental illness. The day before I [...]

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JENNIFER DOGGETT | September 10, 2014 | EDUCATION | 1 |

Abolition of Indigenous tutoring scheme will impact on the Government’s education commitment

The Abbott Government’s decision to abolish the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme (ITAS) has been described by Australia’s peak Indigenous doctors’ representative body as undermining the Government’s support for Indigenous education, particularly tertiary education.

The ITAS acknowledges Indigenous educational disadvantage, providing supplementary tutorial support to Indigenous students in order to increase participation and graduation rates. The scheme enables Indigenous Australian students to access up to a maximum of 2 hours per week per subject additional tutorial assistance during the teaching period and up to a maximum of 5 hours in total during the examination period.

CEO of the Australian Indigenous Doctor’s Association (AIDA), Ms Kate Thomann, expressed her concern about the ITAS changes and the lack of consultation or notice given about the changes.

Ms Thomann says many of AIDA’s student members have indicated that without the support provided by ITAS they would either have never enrolled in medicine in the first place or believe they would have dropped out early.

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JENNIFER DOGGETT | September 09, 2014 | CROAKEY LONGREADS | 2 |

Beyond the stethoscope: Restoring hope, heart and healing in medicine

In discussions about the flaws of our current health system, we rarely consider the impact of funding systems on the wellbeing and experiences of doctors. Forced into rush consultations by Medicare and waiting room economics, Lucy Mayes’ moving essay looks at the stress doctors experience by being unable to take ‘time to care’, leading to burnout and [...]

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